Local News

N.C. Watermelon, Pecan Crops Rotting Due To Rain

Posted August 4, 2003

— Thousands of watermelons worth tens of thousands of dollars are sitting in North Carolina fields rotting away. Some pecan farmers have already lost half their crops. The devastation is being caused by too much rain.

This time of year, watermelon vines and leaves should completely cover the field and hide the crop underneath. Instead, thousands of rotting watermelons are visible at Ronnie McCullen's Sampson County farm.

Last week, McCullen's watermelon field was covered in vines. Since that time, a plant disease called anthracnose killed them all.

McCullen said some of the melons are still good to eat, but the disease weakens the fruit, making them worthless to farmers because they cannot ship them.

"The weather is the Lord's work and that's the way I look at it. There isn't anything we can do about it," McCullen said.

About a mile away, pecan grower Elbie Power's crop has already been cut by 50 percent by another disease running wild from wet weather.

Pecan scab causes black splotches on the nuts.

"When you touch them, they'll break off real easy. They just fall off. In another week to 10 days, these will fall off on their own," Powers said.

Powers sprays to protect the trees and nuts. He said he has already spent twice as much on spray as he normally would.

Tree, vine and fruit crops are some of the hardest hit across the state.

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